Two Charged in Phoenix Drop House Case
|Jaime Cruz-Gutierrez and Olga Marinos Fuentes|
Jaime Cruz-Gutierrez, 44, and Olga Marinos Fuentes, 41, were seen leaving the house just before it was raided by police last night. They were taken into custody shortly after police entered the house and discovered the kids.
The initial report from the Phoenix PD claimed 11 children were discovered in the house. That, apparently, was incorrect. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials now say it was only nine.
Of the nine children found in the home -- ranging in ages from three to 17-years-old -- six girls and one boy were Salvadorian and one boy was Mexican. The ninth child, a 3-year-old, has not been identified.
According to the Phoenix Police Department, cops were tipped off about the house by a woman from El Salvador who reported to the FBI that her three daughters had been kidnapped and were being held in Phoenix.
Turns out, the woman paid "coyotes" to bring the children into the United States illegally. Once they were here, the smugglers tried to extort more money out of the family by holding the children hostage -- at one point, they even threatened to sexually assault the kids.
The house, near 7th and Southern Avenues in Phoenix, was raided by the FBI and the Phoenix Police Department's Special Assignments Unit about 6 p.m. yesterday.
In the house, police also found a man standing guard. He told officers he was also smuggled into the country by "coyotes" and was paying off his debt by guarding the house. For now, he hasn't been charged with a crime.
Cruz-Gutierrez and Marinos Fuentes have both been charged with kidnapping for ransom, smuggling humans for profit, and theft by extortion.
Check out an in-depth look at America's kidnapping capitol (a.k.a. Phoenix) in the New Times feature Seized.